Jun 30, 2009
Last week went well. It's rained almost everyday, so the plants in my garden are very happy. Unfortunately so are the weeds, and with no break in the weather yet that means there's going to be a lot of work on the first sunny day. Everything has started growing well with the exception of my green beans. A few plants started up but many are oddly missing. I imagine it's do to the excess of rain since the seeds will not germinate in soggy ground but will instead rot. If this happens to be the case than I will have to replant some green beans in a week or two depending on the weather. Here is a picture of my potato field so far. As you can see they are enjoying the water very much.
The Mapleton Farm Festival was a lot of fun even though the weather didn't cooperate. We ran between rain drops for the most part from tent to tent. There were a lot of vender's there doing demonstrations of all sorts of things, and many of the demonstrators where in olden day costumes to liven up the atmosphere. There was a demonstration on making soap, and one on candles. One on carving wood, and another on making maple syrup. There was a large demonstration on cleaning, carding, and spinning wool, and they had a farrier there explaining and showing the finer points of trimming hoofs and shoeing horses.
When I say horses I'm not talking about your average riding horses with the spindly legs and prancing gait. I'm talking about horses that for lack of a better term are monsters. As you can see in this picture this women is about 5'4'', and she isn't even as tall as these horses back, let alone their head. They had to be an easy 7' tall. I find then frightening and absolutely beautiful all at the same time. Steve is excited about training with them before we acquire some of our own, and I am pleased he's going to work with some horses before we buy some myself. I've worked with horses before and road horses for a couple years during my childhood, but nothing as large or ominous as Draft horses, so the refresher course is warranted.
Also at the fair was a friend of mine Natalia Bragg of Knot II Bragg Farm. If any of you are interested in herbal healing and apocrathy you can't get better than Natalia. She comes from six generations of healing women in here family and continues her families traditions today. Her website is lovely and she's an all around down to earth person you can ask questions of who will not talk over you but actually to you, if you know what I mean.
We saw one farm that had a demonstration of their Scottish Highland Cattle. They had beautiful representations of the breed, and in the future when we start to develop our own herd, I assure you I'll be visiting their farm. Here's a nice picture of one mother with her baby, and some other random pictures of the fair.
This weekend is The Fourth of July so we will once again be out and about enjoying the local area outside of our farm. I hope everyone enjoys their week and has a good time for the holiday.
Stay Safe and God Bless!
Jun 28, 2009
I decided I'd start today's blog by answering a question posed about last weeks blog. Whether or not Jesus had long hair. While it is impossible to know for sure whether Jesus' hair was long or short because no image of him has been found one can assume that Jesus' hair was short as it was the custom of the day to wear one's hair short, the one exception to this is if someone was under a Nazerite Vow than they would wear their hair long. While Jesus was a Nazarene it can be assumed he was not under a Nazerite Vow because if he was he would have to refrain from wine and laying hands on the dead, or so I'm told. In truth this is all way over my head but you asked so I found answers.
Now on to what I learned about the Bible this week. The Bible is full of references on how to properly raise your child. I find this extremely fascinating because this is truly a book that is a guide to life. The disciples where writing self help books long before it became the rage of the modern day, and yet how many knowledgeable people today pick up the Bible and read it as a guide to life? Dose anyone else see the irony in this?
The Bible speaks volumes on discipline. It gives specific instructions as to how we are supposed to gear the discipline of a child; Proverbs 13: 24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Proverbs 19: 18 Discipline your children while you still have the chance; Indulging them destroys them. Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. But the Bible also talks about the discipline of the parents should they fail in raising a righteous child 1 Samuel 3:13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.
Hasn't every child at one time or another made themselves contemptible? Being contemptible by definition is being willful and obstinate, disobedient and showing a lack of respect. That one word sums every child I've ever know at least some of the time. The Lord knows my children are guilty of it. So I think with these passages the Bible has summed up the problems that all parents face everyday, and to be good Christian Parents we have to nip it in the but so to say.
However that isn't popular thinking when the general consensus of the time is that parents want their children to "like" them. I know many mother's personally that want to have their daughters treat them like a friend, and want to be able to hang out with their daughter's and their daughter's friends, and while I must admit sometimes the thought is appealing it is by no means acceptable.
You can hang out with your kids when they're adults, when you've done your job raising them, and when they are no longer accountable to you for their actions, but are accountable to God and themselves. I love the relationship I have with my children, and I hope that relationship will stay strong throughout the upcoming teenage years that are right around the corner. I know that I have to remain a figure of authority in my house however tempting it maybe to play the role of a friend. I want my children to grow up in a loving, healthy, safe environment that can be a refuge from the real world until they are ready to enter it, and I want to teach my children to be good Christians and give them an example of a good Christian parent so that they may grow up and be the same for their kids.
Jun 22, 2009
The weathers getting warmer, the grass is getting greener. The birds, bees and bugs have graced us with their presence for yet another year. In town the people are running around in their short shorts and belly shirts. Kids of all ages are tramping around with ice cream cones and water guns. Summer is upon us, and enjoyment abounds. With the onset of July, fireworks can be expected and already the neighbors have begun practicing their festivities for the day, but when I think July I think Fairs.
This years round of fairs are shaping up quite good. I love Fairs ever since I was a kid I would try to go to each and everyone in the area. There isn't a better time to be had for a cheaper price than bring the kids to the fair. Carnival rides are of course my eldest's favorite. My middle child loves the barn animals. Only time will tell what my youngest enjoys the most. My husband likes the tractors and equipment, and I love the demonstrations.
Any demonstration really. It can be for selling a product like they do at the really big fairs or showing how to make cheese at the town fair, doesn't matter to me. I always like to learn something new or a better way to doing something I already knew. My favorite demonstrations are the spinning classes or the quilting bees. In these small groups are people who are trying to teach their skills. Skills that are a dying art of days long past, and I feel it's a duty to keep these skills alive and pass them on to future generations.
This year we have a list of fairs to go to in the area. Starting this weekend is a horse fair in Mapleton, Maine called the Maple Meadow Farm Festival. We will of course be attending and I will post pictures next week. Then for Fourth of July weekend there is the Houlton Agricultural Fair in Houlton, Maine who's high light of events is a concert staring American Idol Contestant Josh Gracin among the usual agriculture fair agenda.
There is the Potato Blossom Festival that is held in Fort Fairfield every year that embodies the true spirit of agriculture here in Northern Maine because as many of you know you can't get more Maine than a potato, and the Strawberry Short cake Festival in Limestone. There's the Centennial Parade and Pig Roast in Portage lake where the snowmobile club is going to host a motorcycle rodeo, and the County Gospel Music Festival in Fort Fairfield in early July. The Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle touts itself to be a family affair worth going to , and
the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival is always something to behold at the end of August.
We plan to take a trip to Connecticut this fall with the kids so they can spend sometime with our extended familiesl. While we're down in that neck of the woods I intend to take them to the Big Eastern States Exhibition in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It is a fair that I went to every year with my family growing up in Connecticut and it is the largest fair I've ever seen. My eldest son has gone to it twice in his life but it will be the first time all the children get to attend and I imagine it will be a time to remember for sure. Also while we're in Connecticut I intend to attend the Riverton Fair. It's a tiny little town fair but I have fond memories of it since I grew up in the town next door to Riverton, Connecticut.
So that's the plan for entertainment off the farm this summer. I hope everyone is making plans for a great eventful summer out in your area. I feel summer is meant to be enjoyed and shouldn't be all about work whether your on a farm or not, and that there's always plenty of local entertainment right in your area that can be taken advantage of.
Happy planning and God Bless!
Some of you already know that my husband Steve and I have begun studying the Bible. For the past 6 weeks we have been doing a Bible study every Sunday night. In doing so I never thought to become so enlightened. So in light of this I've decided to do a post every Monday on some sort of knowledge that I've realized from the Bible the night before... here goes.
When I was growing up every adult around me would always try to give me some insight that would help me in my adult years about how one should live. I never realized that many of these insights are derived from the bible. Hidden with in this one book can be found all of those little saying and tips, here are examples of just a few.
Boys are supposed to have short hair, girls should have long.
Corinthians 11:14-15 Dose not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a women has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. While I know this school of though dose not convey into today's style of things my Grandfather can still be heard commenting anytime he See's a boy with a ponytail. If asked why he's so adverse to the style he simply replies that it's just not right.
Never go to sleep Angry.
Ephesians 4:26-27 In your anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. This was a piece of advise my mother gave me when I got married.
Education is the key to success.
Proverbs 24:3 Through wisdom a house is built. This is only one example of the many times knowledge is sited as being good in the eyes of the Lord. Today we place a lot of stock on higher education and it's good to see that furthering one's mind is in keeping with God's will.
If at first you don't succeed try, try again.
Proverbs 24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Perseverance is greatly rewarded today and is also a desired trait by God.
Those that have a closed mind also have a closed heart.
Ephesians 4:17-18 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is them now due to the hardening of their hearts. The people out there that think they know everything never open themselves to anyone else for knowledge, and in doing so they cut themselves off from God.
These are just a few little insights that I've gleaned from the Bible so far that I've often heard used in every day life. I know many of the people who have reiterated these teachings have no idea that they are derived from the bible, I know I didn't. It makes me wonder what else we are not giving religion proper credit for. It seems that today religion has become taboo, but the basis of our fundamental lives, Countries, and governments are all derived and based on religion. So how is it we can shun something that is a foundation of who we are as a human being?
Jun 18, 2009
I've spent the greater part of this week sick as a dog. My oldest son was the first to bring the sickness home. We had our monthly mother-son outing in which he gets to feel more like a grown up because he helps me shop in the store for what we need for the next thirty days or so. I try to make it a point to only go out for thing once a month because it's a 40 minute or so drive to Presque Isle which is where most of my shopping has to take place. So on these outings I purchase ridiculous quantities of Toilet paper, Paper towels, Dish soap, Cling Wrap, Tin Foil.... you get the picture.
My dear son didn't want to where a coat for much of this trip. Even though I was consistently nagging him to do so, and reminding him that he was going to get sick he deflected my comments by sighting the many other people out around us in there short sleeve shirts and even some in shorts despite the chilly 55 degrees outside. In my head I was thinking these people are from Maine born and raised they can go out in mid January in shorts and not get sick, you can't. But I kept my comments to myself and in the interest of enjoying the day with my son let the subject drop. Two days later I have a house full of sick children and I'm starting to feel sick myself. Four days later I no longer want to move and the remainder of the household is sick as well. My fault as much if not more than my son's needless to say it won't happen again.
As many of you know My husband quit his job a few months back and started a landscape and property maintenance business. We've been living on the edge ever since and I was starting to worry about the lack of calls coming in. I can honestly say that with this cold I had worrying about business was the last thing on my mind and as luck would have it God provides. We got some calls yesterday morning for various small jobs that would keep us afloat this month, and yesterday afternoon we got a call that we had won the bid to re roof 12 houses for the private boarding school in the area. That one job will give us two months of work and our wages for the year. Crisis averted, God is Good.
Another good bit of news we received yesterday is that we won a Moose permit in the Maine hunting lottery. There were two drawings this year one for local farmers due to crop damage which we got the permit from and a second drawing that will be held at the end of the summer. We are still entered in the second drawing and have a chance to get a second permit, and then we have our regular hunting licence that allows us to take a deer but that's not until Fall. This moose permit is for a hunt in August and my husband is so excited. He's never hunted moose before so this will be a real treat. I'm excited because should he get one the sheer size of the animal grantees that we are going to have enough meat to take us through the year, add to that a deer and our chickens and I won't have to do any meat shopping at all this year.
It's an exciting feeling to know that you can provide for your family. My husband made that comment to me last night, and in saying that I knew that we made the right decision to live this way. I know that he is proud of his ability to care for us, and that with the help of God all our dreams for Snowbound Farms will come true. So here we are all of us recovering from being sick, a little bit more secure in our future, and a little bit more self reliant than last week. God Bless.
Jun 16, 2009
After four days of this the fruit is jammed and canned. I did some syrups, cut fruits, jellies, and pie mixes. Now the only thing left to do is post the recipes with the pictures on the website. It takes a while to upload pictures, and now thanks to my children I too have a cold so please bear with me on the recipes and give me till the weekend to have them all uploaded. I will however share a photo with you of my kitchen counter now that I'm done.
I know it's a lot of cans, but truthfully it's just the beginning. We put up enough food for all of us to eat for a year and there's six of us. So you'll be hearing a lot about canning in the upcoming months. In other news the chickens are doing great and I thought I'd share a picture of my white silkie next to my husbands white rock. There both really pretty birds and I'm happy we got both breeds instead of just the one. Funny how this worked out that way.
Our gardens doing well, from this picture you can't see much but you can see our makeshift garden stakes a trellises for our beans, peas, and tomatoes. After I recover from my sickness I'll set out the tomatoes now that the danger of frost has past. The only thing to show you that's starting to come up in the garden is our potatoes, and here's a picture of one of them as well.
Hope you enjoy the rest of the day! Check the website this weekend I promise all the canning recipes will be there. God Bless!
Jun 10, 2009
It's raining here today. The chickens are stuck in their coop because they are still to young to run about outside in the rain and not get chilled, so they are annoyed at their captivity and are clucking loudly outside. The garden's getting a good soaking which it needed and the potatoes and onions are beginning to sprout. The rhubarb is flourishing, tomorrow it's going to be cut to make preserves.
Our 224 tomato plants that we planted almost two weeks ago died this week. We got a late season killing frost that took them all out. We have no local tv here. So we basically get our weather from the radio, computer, random people in town or just looking outside. We were unaware of the frost danger and as such I am paying for it dearly. After some debate over the cost of replacement we have another 224 plants ready to go into the ground, but that are remaining on my porch until after the 15th. When I do decide to plant them I will have to dig up the 224 dead plants and replace them with the new ones essentially doubling my work, and setting back the harvest time as well.
In light of this I have decided that Snowbound farms desperately needs a green house. I had mentioned it a few times last year but this year I'm putting my foot down and by planting season next year we will have one. The cost of having to buy tomato, pepper, and eggplants every year is too high alone, and then to loose them all and spend the money again to replace them is ridiculous, so a green house is the answer.
My fruit is being picked up tomorrow from the store. I've ordered such a large sum that it had to be pre-ordered. So for those of you waiting for my canning recipes and pictures they will be posted over the weekend and should all be up by Monday. Until then I've been cleaning and sterilizing jars in my spare time and am anxious to begin canning tomorrow.
School is out and my neighbor's children have begun to wander over. Most of the properties around us are covered with crops because they are full time working farms. My farm on the other hand is still developing so the boys have a few acres to themselves to go play kick ball or baseball or tag on. They also have all our old farm dirt roads to go bike riding on with out the danger of playing around farm equipment like on the other farms. Add to that the 80 or so acres of woods on our property and you can see why the kids like to come over and play.
So our farm is a hive of activity even though it's not as large an enterprise as other farms are. We're proud of our accomplishments so far this year and feel that it will be a very productive year for us. We have several visits planned from both friends and family this summer and welcome them with open arms. Our house may not be the Hilton but it's a place warmth and love, and we feel doubly blessed to have this life and to be able to share it with those we love. I hope all of you out there have wonderful activities planned with your loved ones as we enter this summer season. Have a great day, and God Bless.
Jun 8, 2009
I'm doing a second blog today because it has come to my attention that there is going to be a protest of the NAIS - National Animal ID System on Tuesday June 9 from 8 am to 12 noon. The protest will be held at exactly the same time that the USDA NAIS listening session at Truman Hotel & Conference Center in Jefferson City, Missouri is going on.
For those of you not aware of what NAIS is here is a brief description of the program. NAIS is a program instituted by the USDA and the National Institute for Animal Agriculture. NAIS will tag and track movements of 33 species of animals worldwide. It is a three step program. Step one requires livestock owners to obtain a GPS linked Premise ID number for their property. Step two ensures all animals be identified with an international ID device. Step three requires electronic reporting of all movements on or off the Id property to develop a 48 hour trace-back to the premises of origin of any and every animal.
What this means is that if you have a property split by a road you need to file paper work with the government to cross the road with your cows from one pasture on your land to another. It also means that every animal on your farm or in your back yard must be tagged and micro chipped to be legal. That includes your back yard chickens and your child's pet rabbit. This law effects everyone, everywhere. Get the word out. PROTEST,PROTEST,PROTEST...but please do it peacefully. If you are in the area of Jefferson City, Missouri please attend. This one law will single handedly put an end the small family farms in America.
I don't usually post about this sort of thing because I know that public opinion is so widely varied but I was reading my daily dose of news on the web this morning and "the people" got me going. There seems to be an outcry of the end of the world from the general public lately. There is a rise in homesteading and survivalists, media, tv shows, magazines, hey even the History Channel is doing documentaries on the end of the world now. Don't get me wrong I believe that something is coming, it's not hard to look around lately and know that something is going to have to change because we can't possibly follow the path we're on as a society much longer than we already have, but the end of the world? Probably not.
Death, destruction, poverty, famine, disease, hardships, yes I can see all of these happening. That's one of the reasons my husband and I made the life change and started to homestead and are survivalists. There is a generation of people out there who have no idea how to take care of themselves. We can read seven languages, and write beautiful literature. We can play musical instruments and collect die hard fans. We can litigate, and do complicated mathematics, and all sorts of other very knowledgeable things. But when it comes down to it what percentage of the general public can cook there own food?
I'm being serious, I would love for them to do a survey on that for once, and I'm not talking about prepackaged boxed or frozen food but an actual meal made with real ingredients. We've been taught all kinds of wonderful things in school except how to meet our very basic needs by ourselves. There is no more home ec or sewing in schools today so there's a generation of people who need the help of the grocery store, Walmart, the drug store..ect, ect. It's a sad state of affairs when two generations ago people bought food from a local source, milk was delivered to your door fresh each day along with eggs. Bread was made at home and the dry goods were purchased from a general store instead of a huge chain store. Clothes were sewn at home and sweaters knitted. Toys and furniture were made of wood, and walking was an acceptable practice.
So back to the news story that started this line of thought. People around the world are "stocking up" for the end of days. One woman has been buying things at the store for the past year every time they go on sale. She has 200 bottles of Mr. Clean in her pantry already. Are you kidding? How is this sustainable living? If you truly believe the end of civilization as we know it is coming then wouldn't it be smarter to know how household cleaner is made and to grow the things to make it with. Wouldn't that be preparing for the long term? Incidentally for those of you out there hording Windex and Mr. Clean the best household cleaner is and always will be vinegar, and can be made from apples, so it would be smarter even in the city to grow an apple tree for your cleaners. It doubles as food as well and is much cheaper and more sustainable than buyying out your local Walmart.
There are countless examples of this kind of thinking I can site but I'll limit myself to just one more. Water filtration Systems. There are hundreds if not thousands of people out there who are so happy with the fact that if the end of the world were to come they have a Water Filtration System. Of course most of them have to have filters so these people have hoarded and stocked up on these as well, instead of thinking that maybe a clay filtration system might be the better answer because it needs only to be cleaned instead of replaced. In my opinion Big Berkey's are the best, but you still need to be able to get at the water to filter it. There seems to be a huge misconception out there that because you have a private well you have water in times of trouble. Well contrary to popular belief most wells are pumped electrically and in times of trouble the electric grid is the first thing to go, isn't it? It would behove everyone who is stocking up on ridiculous amounts of goods and hugging your Brita filters every night to buy a hand pump for your well and install it, and maybe brush up on the finer points of solar and wind power technology and how to build it.
I don't mean to be mean or sarcastic, I think the people out there who are talking to the media are genuine in what they are tyring to do, I just think that they are misguided in their attempts to be self sufficient, do to the lack of information out there readily available to them. Once again do not get me wrong I am with you in believing that there is hard times on the horizon and that everyone should be prepared, but we should be prepared in an intelligent, sustainable manner. I believe everyone should have enough food in their house to feed their family at least a year, and everyone should have a supply of vegetable seeds at least two years ahead... I know it's not possible for everyone to garden due to location but spending $20 and having them in the house just in case wouldn't hurt, even if you never get the chance to use them... just a thought.
So anyways, That's the extent of my rant today. If anyone would like to speak to me privately about living a sustainable lifestyle my e-mail is email@example.com. I'd be glad to give anyone information who wants it, like I said there's a great gap of information out there. I hope no one is offended by this post, and that I still have followers come tomorrow. I'm off to go can fiddleheads. Enjoy the rest of the day!
Jun 5, 2009
So I open up my neighborhood grocery circular yesterday and low and behold what do I see? Peaches, Nectarines,Strawberries, and Cherries all on sale. I'm not talking about a slight sale but an honest to goodness I have to buy this type sale. The peaches and nectarines are $1.99 a lb. the strawberries are $1.69 alb. and the Cherries are $2.98 a lb. Wow right? You know that saying "When Life gives you lemons make lemon aid"? Well when life sends you a sale on fruit way up north where there's no possibility of getting it to grow yourself make jams, jellies, and can!
Originally I was just going to can straight rhubarb jam this weekend, but do to this sale my workload just increased ten fold. With strawberries at this price I can afford to make my strawberry jams and preserves and my strawberry rhubarb pie filling. With the peaches and nectarines I'll be making some jams, and pie filling, and straight canning. With the cherries I'll be making some pie fillings and brandy cherries.. yum. We use the brandy cherries in our drinks during the Christmas Season. It helps to fight back our bitter cold and they taste really good to.
So the next thing for me to do is to clean and prepare more of my canning jars and my kitchen for the weekend and probably all of next week. I will post the recipes I'm using on the recipe page as soon as possible and after I've canned them I will post pictures. I haven't decided weather or not I should post a step by step canning picture guide in the albums, maybe your feedback will make up my mind.
In other news, our onions are starting to come up in the garden and the tomatoes I transplanted are doing well. The chickens are happy campers in their new coop and are fattening themselves up on bugs and worms. Life is good on the farm and we feel we are blessed. I met some neighbors down the road a bit who are Amish Mennonite and they are a very nice couple. The wife has offerd to teach me spinning and I am so very grateful for it. Up the ladder of self sufficiency we go. Have a great Day!! God Bless!!!
Jun 3, 2009
He shuts the door while murmuring not so nice things about parents knowing where there children are at night, takes his coffee and goes into the living room to sit down, I follow with the same attitude. It's been a long day, the kids were hard to put down for bed because of the excited anticipation of the last day of school. They both know that next year they're going to be home schooled instead of going to the town school and while my middle child, Victor, doesn't yet go to school he's excited that his big brother will me home with him all day instead of disappearing in the morning and not returning till a few hours before bed. The baby wasn't easy to put down for bed either. She's cutting teeth and cranky almost all of the time. So the last thing I needed was the town kids playing pranks that would wake up the house at 10pm. I just want to sit down and relax with my cup of coffee and my husband for half an hour before bed.
We cuddle into the couch discussing various thing we need to do the next day and things already completed, things we will do differently next year, and things we'd like to do in the future. When all of the sudden, Tap, Tap, Tap. Louder this time, there's no mistaking it someone is at the door. So I get up in my night gown mind you to go see who it is, ready to begin yelling into the darkness if there isn't anyone at the door. I swing open the kitchen door and there this little June bug flys in and lands on my kitchen island. Apparently he wanted to come in, and we kept shutting the door in his face. I smile to myself leaving the June bug on the counter, and wander back into the other room. Who was at the door? Steve asks. I reply Bug season is upon us.
That's right bug season is finally here. Here in Maine it's the season that comes after Mud, in the middle of Spring but before Summer. It's when every person in there right mind retreats into there house for three weeks waiting for the black flies, horse flies, gnats, and no see em's to disappear. No work gets done comfortably outside, and every child has swollen lymph nodes in there throat do to the number of bites they incur tyring to get from the house to the car. It's miserable. Thank God we got the garden in this year before it started. But for now I'm content to sit on the couch with my husband and my coffee with sleeping children in their beds and an unexpected visitor the June bug flying around my kitchen. Life is good.
Jun 2, 2009
I started off this week determined that we were not only going to finish planting our market garden but also plant our corn. Our market garden this year is a little more than half an acre, and what planting needs to be done is done by hand do to our lack of equipment. Same thing with the corn Steve uses the lawn tractor to make the rows and then we plant buy hand. It's a lot of work and after our long winter of lounging around in the house every muscle in my back is killing me.
So like the title says the garden is almost in. We learned quite a lot with last years attempt at a garden. Our plants are much closer together and so are our rows so this year we are planting probably three times the amount of seeds we planted last year in about the same space. We purchased stacks last year in order to hold up our many tomato plants and saved them to reuse this year. Yesterday about half way through the garden planting we realized we didn't have near enough stakes to finish. I don't have the money to buy more stacks so the 235 stacks that are needed in order to plant the peas and Jacob's Cattle bean's will have to be cut by my father and husband later today in order to finish the last 6 rows of our garden.
In light of this we finished planting our bush beans and set to work on the corn. Our corn rows are about 100 ft long each and sectioned in squares. We put in about a pound of seed per section, Five sections total. My hope is that we will have enough corn to eat fresh, sell, can, and to dry for soups, and to dry to supplement the chickens during the winter. Whether that will be enough I have no idea. It's trial and error here folks.So I'll let you all know how that turns out come fall.
It was really nice working in the garden and seeing all my chickens outside at their coop. They haven't got to much sense yet and with each pacing shower we got this weekend Steve and I had to manually put them into the coop to get them out of the soaking rain. They haven't got all there adult feather's yet and it's still only in the 60's for temperature here, so I thought being wet through might do them in, especially if they can't get dry before dark when the temperature goes back into the 40's. I decided we were going to have to move them into there coop manually when in the middle of one rain storm they were all huddled together under the coop with the wind ruffling their feathers and spraying them with rain. Hopefully they gain some common sense with age and figure out that in the coop is dry and warm during a storm, out of the coop is cold and wet. Are chickens supposed to be that clueless?
The rhubarb is almost ripe and I'm now searching around town looking for used canning jars so I can try my hand at some of the recipes I have for strawberry rhubarb pie filling and the various rhubarb jams, and I even have one for a rhubarb syrup. All the recipes will be located on the Recipe page that I'm adding to the site. Each time I can something new or make something new I'll add it to the list. The list should go in order of what ripens first and is therefore available. So of course rubarb is first followed by the various berries. I think it will be fun and you all get the benefits of my mistakes. I hope everyone enjoys it and I'll try to make sure I have pictures for each treat.
Well that's all for now, Time to go finish the planting, and tend to the kids. Hope you all enjoy the rest of the day.
There have been some changes in the home front this week to speak of. As many of you know we've been added to Mother Earth News' Happy Homesteaders Page as a link, and we are very Happy to be linked to such a well known Homesteading Source. We hope all her dedicated readers enjoy our website as well, and would like to officially thank Mother for the add.
Another surprising change that happened last week was that my husband quit his "off the farm" job. Those of you who know me personally know that we are not a rich family by any means and that we currently count on outside income away from the farm to support us. We hope to generate enough income on the farm to have to work outside the home but it takes either years of building up the means to do so or a whole lot of money upfront to jump into such an enterprise. I'm pleased my husband had the guts to say no more and keep his dignity by quitting.
Steve has always been a jack-of-all-trades type of guy. He can fix a car, install electricity and plumbing in a house. Actually he can build a house from the ground up and he did when we first got married for a company in Connecticut. He has a passion for landscaping and landscape construction, and enjoys his sideline of photography.
So out of this decision the new Night and Day Landscapes has evolved. Those of you who have been following this blog know that Night and Day Landscapes is my husbands photography site linked to this site. Well now Steve is offering professional landscape services to Aroostook County through this site under the company name Night and Day Landscapes. His photography page which is currently being updated will new photos for sale is linked to this new page. It is our hope that we will be as embraced by all of you in our new business as we have been with our farm.
Change can sometimes be scary, but I have faith that the Lord is guiding us down our present path, and that we are doing what is right for our family. We are happy with our decisions and our chosen lifestyle and we hope all of you can derive strength and happiness from our stories of our life.
Another change this week was the finishing of the chicken coop. All our little chicken are now enjoying themselves in their much bigger box. The kids couldn't be happier. My little one's have never actually seen chickens running about a yard before, and the knowledge that these are their chickens makes it even better. How their going to recat when it comes time to stock the freezer I'm not sure. I've already begun to explain to them that these chickens are not pets but food. It will be interesting to see the reaction.
One big surprise to me is that our apple orchard is coming back to life. I thought for sure I had lost my trees to the 50 below zero day that we had back in January. That's Alaska weather not Maine and as far as I know they don't have apple orchards in Alaska. (If you do please correct me in the comment section I'd love to hear about it). So much to my surprise we are getting new growth on the trees and they are springing back to life. I started with 48 trees and lost 5 to animals eating them, 11 to wind burn and weather. My husband says that's not good odds, but I say it's wonderful considering from all the literature I've read I shouldn't have one tree that's alive.
My five year old apple trees that came with the house are showing signs of blossoms this Spring. So that will mean we will be getting apples from it this year, it's their first year of production. So I'm excited I will be having regular apples to can... What variety AI have no idea, and crab apples again this year as well. We are surrounded by abundance.
Our friends from Delaware came up in the middle of May and liked the area so much that they are currently making preparations to make a permanent move to the area. We welcome them with open arms and hope that they too can make their homesteading dream come true. We believe this is a life worth living and we are happy to see that others agree. The opportunities to own property and homestead out in this area are all around and we encourage those trying for this lifestyle to check the area out. It's not for everyone, but for those that don't mind the cold I like to think it's a little bit of heaven.
The chicken coop that we've been building for the past three weeks is done at last. It started out being a weekend project that grew to take almost a full month when you add the planning of it. Just another lesson to consider when taking on new projects, always plan for it to take longer than you had expected.
We built the coop five feet off the ground do to the amount of snow we get here in the winter. I knew for sure that I didn't want to be out this winter in subzero temperatures trying to dig out the chicken coop in order to give them food and water. Due to this realization a lot of thought went into the planning stages of the design. I wanted to be able to collect the eggs from our farm road and not have to go into the pen itself to do so, also making it easier on me in the winter.
The coop had to be sectioned into two sides because we are raising two different breeds: White Rocks in one side, Silkie Bantams in the other. There runs are both separate as well. On each side of the Coop there are two large doors that swing down flat so as to be completely out of the way for cleaning purposes. The Chickens have entry by a ramp and sliding door on the side of the coop. The sliding door is attached to a thin 15 foot chain that is attached by eye hooks toward the front of the coop. We did this so that I could pull the chain from outside the fence and let the birds out without having to go into the chicken yard. As you can see convenience was key.
Each breed of chicken has a grassy area about 40 feet by 50 feet wide in which to roam during the day and they can go under the coop for shade and safety from air born predators. They have access to come and go from the coop at there discretion, and have many roosts made from closet dowels in the coop. All in all it was quite an undertaking. The coop itself 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet tall with the roof. A mansion for my 30 birds. Hopefully they'll be productive and double their numbers by the time it's time to stock the freezer. Anyway, Snowbound Farms officially has chickens. The first step on a long ladder to becoming a truly self sufficient farm. For anyone interested in detailed plans of our coop, I will be making them available for purchase through our site by mid summer. They will include detailed drawings, step by step instructions, and a material list with pictures. I hope you check out the pictures of our finished creation on our photo's page.
So as you all know were just starting out on our farm, and farm equipment is expensive to say the least. We are by no means rich or even well off and to keep our farm moving and growing has been a continual money hunt. I've noticed that upkeep isn't to expensive as long as you have the skills to do it yourself and the ingenuity to find different ways of doing things.
The big money eaters are the new things we want to add to the farm. Like the market garden we put tin last year where there had not been a garden before. We had no equipment to till it ourselves so we had to hire someone to come in and do it for us. Well, this year we put the garden in the same spot and hired the same person to once again till the garden under but it cost half the price because the long time consuming job of breaking the sod and starting the garden from scratch had already been done the year before. Next year we should be able to till it ourselves with the large walk behind tiller we got last weekend knocking the cost down to maintenance on the tiller and gas. This is just one example but it seems that everything on our farm follows this suit.
So because we are constantly adding new things and because we always have lack of funds their are a lot of things we need.... and can't afford. This is where necessity becomes the mother of invention. We have a potatoe farming neighbor who has been the nicest guy. We probably give him and his wife a good laugh about how much we don"t know when it comes to farming, but he is always helpful and patient with all our question asking. Well he saw us putting in garden rows last year by hand. If you've never actually done this before let me tell you it sounds and even looks easier than it is. It's truly back breaking labor. So he went home and took an old piece of a potatoe rower and welded it to a frame that could be attached to our ride on mower. It only dose one row at a time but it works beautifully. We cut our gardening time this year in half. Next year I hope to acquire a planter of some sort, especially for the corn.
So I have to say for everyone dreaming of doing this, listen to the advice of your neighbors. They know more than you that's why there still here. Be kind to your neighbors and they will help you out, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Many of the older farmers in our area are only to happy to spend time telling stories and explaining things. They feel that farming is a dying profession and they love to see a new generation trying to live off the land. I've posted new picks in the farming album.
Have a great day.
I thought the best way to start the Family posts was to introduce you to my children one by one and to tell you a little about our weekend so here goes. This weekend was the annual Caribou City Wide tag Sale. This is a sale where the town puts out a map listing directions and a brief description of items that will be found at homeowners tag sales all across the are on this one weekend. Just how anyone could pass up an opportunity like that I don't know. So I dragged my husband, and my three children out of the house at 6:30 in the morning to go treasure hunting as I like to call it.
We had a pretty good day. My oldest son Vincent who is 8 got 5 pairs of jeans, 30 or so new chapter books, and a new toy pistol. Here he is with our neighbor playing war. Vincent is the younger child playing the victim. while I'm personally not crazy about this form of "playing", I got the "boys will be boys" speech from Steve so I decided to smile and go with it. Of course the boys were only to happy to pose for the picture.
My middle son Victor is 2 years old and he walked away from the tag sales with 105 various children' s books, they were selling them by the bundle of 15 books for 50 cents, so of course I couldn't help myself. He also got a toy tractor to play with outside. Here's a picture of Victor playing with his toy Hummer in the yard.
My third child Garnet Rose is 9mths old and she got the most beautiful cloths I've ever seen. Two big trash bags full of brand name baby and toddler clothes for $35.00. I won't have to buy anything but shoes and coats until she's 4 years old... my best deal of the day I think. This is a picture of my first girl Garnet Rose.
As for me I got a few DvD's for the family, and a couple glass cutting boards. I've found you can never have to many cutting boards.My husband Steve bought a rototiller for our gardens, and while it won't do our large fields we at least can do the market garden next year without hiring it out again. And even though I do not need it right now, I found a beautiful wooden cradle. Steve and I both want more children in the future so it wasn't a hard sell for him to buy it for me. I am so happy to be able to own something so special that can be used not only for my children but also for my future grandchildren, after all isn't that what life's all about? The continuous circle of friends and family? So that's the whole gang.. so far. We feel God has blessed us abundantly and we thank him for all that we are and all that we have.
We had quite a week here on the farm. The rain finally let up enough for us to get some of our spring time chores done. My husband continued to work on our chicken coop, which I've now lovingly nick named "chicken mansion". Nothing we ever do can be small and simple and our chicken coop is a testament to that. Our White rocks are getting to big for the Tupperware bin that they are now residing in and I was hopping to get them out into the coop this week but alas, the coop is not finished so they will have to endure cramped quarters for one more week. Our Silkie Bantams are still too small to go out to the coop so when the Rocks go outside they will remain inside with plenty of room to grow.
We were able to get the garden tilled last week. Since we do not have equipment to do it ourselves we have to hire out to a neighbor to till the garden for us. He came and in a few short hours we had the ground turned over and ready for plowing. Then later in the week my husband took our riding mower and attached the makeshift plow our farming neighbor made for us. It works very well even though we can only make one row at a time but let me tell you it beats the heck out of doing it by hand like last year. We saved a lot of time doing the garden by machine this year so I won't be so rushed with the planting. This week I'm hopeing to get my potatoe and onion sets in, if the weather cooperates.
We also got two plants of rhubarb from my husband's work friends and we split them up... they were absolutely huge... and planted them in their very own permanent bed. The result is our farm road going between the main garden and the chicken coop area and driving along the rhubarb beds. When the fences are up it should be aesthetically pleasing and very functional, which is what we were going for. All in all it's been a very productive week, and with any luck next week I'll be telling you all about our finished chicken coop. I will however start posting some of the pictures of the building process under the Chicken Photo Album, feel free to check them out.
Have a good week,
The much anticipated Chickens have arrived. We received 20 White Rock Chickens, 10 Silkie Bantams of various colors, and 1 Mystery Chick. We'll have to wait and see about that one. We ordered them from McMurray Hatchery and their absolutely beautiful. We worked all weekend on their permanent coop outside and will continue to work on it all week and next weekend if need be. I will post pictures of the coop and of it's building as soon as it is completed. That way I can post the process in it's entirety. New pictures of the chicken will follow as well.
Since things really aren't that crazy around here yet I figured I would take time and share some of our mistakes made during the winter season. We are new at this after all, and maybe our mistakes will help some of you just starting off. All in all our first full winter here was a success. The few minor hiccups we experienced didn't lesson our quality of life at all. My children are happy and healthy and currently climbing the walls in anticipation of the fair weather ahead.
The first good thing is we didn't starve. I know all of you are laughing at that statement because anyone with good sense knows if you run out of the food you have stored you can go to the grocery store.. crisis averted. However that's not what this lifestyle is about. Last Spring I set certain rules that were to be followed the first of which was only a monthly trip to the grocery store was allowed and only to buy thing we can't produce on the farm and absolutely under no circumstances anything eatable that was not grown locally. So with these limitation set by myself for myself I think we did fairly well these past months.
I stuck to the rules and was still able to turn out a meal every night. We ran out of carrots back in January so I know to plant lots more of those this spring. Same with tomatoes for pasta sauce and to dice with peppers for other meals. Items that need to be stocked up on more include sugars, coffee, and butter since it freezes well. As for the sugar I'm attempting this year to stuck up on locally made syrup and honey wishing of course to cut out the processed white stuff forever. This however is more easily said than done. The cost of purchasing said syrup and honey is considerably high. Unfortunately our forested acreage dose not include maple trees so there's no hope in producing our own maple syrup. We do however have birch trees and have found in reading that syrup can be made from them. Not the high quality stuff from maples but still a viable alternative. The only problem with this is that it takes 100 gallons of birch sap to make 1 gallon of syrup as opposed to the 50 gallons of maple sap it takes. All in all though I'm making it a point to at least check out the cost of supplies and have a go at it next spring.
I decided to use a corner of our basement furthest from our wood stove into a make shift root cellar last fall and I was seriously impressed with what will keep well over the winter months. We of course had all our canned goods and are still actually working on the peas and green beans. As I said before the carrots disappeared quicker than I would have thought and also the corn even though it doesn't really have any nutritional value. I purchased winter squash in the fall last year about 45 lbs or so and that kept nicely till about mid February.
We had more than enough potatoes and its a good thing too. Around Early January I noticed on of my large Rubbermaid tubs of potatoes had started to sprout. In about 3 weeks the whole bucket had half a foot sprout shooting out of them. Of course I was slightly alarmed and began wondering if the basement was to hot or other such nonsense. I went out and found a book on preserving food by root cellaring and other methods besides the all expensive canning method, and found out that you do not store apples in close proximity with potatoes. Apparently the gases the apples emit cause the potatoes to sprout. Oops. We had another tub of potatoes that were doing fine and it had no effect on the apples. The only lose is that instead of having potatoes left over that can go toward seed I have to repurchase seed this year. An unfortunate event because I hadn't budgeted for another 200lbs of seed potatoes, but oh well, live and learn.
Another good thing, we didn't freeze. This is a very good thing. The winter this year was very kind in snow only 3-4 feet or so, but ridiculously brutal in cold. Three days in January the temperature dipped 50 below zero. I began to wonder if we moved to northern Maine or Fairbanks Alaska.Our house is anything but weather tight, and we're working on that. We need new siding, new windows, and a new roof asap. But above all else what we need is money to do these things, so for now we make do with what we have.
As the winter approached last year gas and oil prices began to drop but not enough that we could see heating our drafty house with it. So we went out a splurged on a "new"used wood stove and purchased 6 cords of fire wood to make it through the winter. We purchased the wood because we didn't have time to cut it our selves. A mistake we will not be making this year. Wood cutting is now a major priority. Through trial and error we gradually began to understand how to heat the house with wood. From banking the fire at night to making sure the fire didn't go out during the day even if the temperature in the house was fair. The reason for this was because the chimney of the stove is directly in the center of our house. If there is a constant fire going the chimney heats up and in turn heats the whole house even the bedrooms. But if the fire is allowed to die out and the chimney cools it takes hours before you can heat the chimney again to where the temperature upstairs is comfortable.
At about March we noticed we were at the end of our firewood but not at the end of the cold weather. We broke down and ordered 100 gallons of oil for $500 and began to look for a source of wood to take us till spring. We found it when a neighbor of ours was remolding his barn. He came right to our house and asked if we wanted the partially rotted wood for the fire. Of course we said yes and were very grateful, and are currently burning that wood right now. The thought "God will provide" crossed my mind.
The last good thing: We didn't kill each other. Winter is long here. long, long, long. It starts around Halloween and lasts till the first week of May and some years I'm told it can snow in June. I really will take everyone's word on that, It's an event I need not see for myself. So the fact that we have survived these many months in a half remodeled house of 1400sqft on top of one another is a feet of great proportion. The addition we began last year we hope will be finished before the cold descends upon us again. It will give us the much need privacy from one another that was a source of discontent this winter. We're a strong family though and we made it through still loving each other and above all liking each others company.
That about sums up the long winter we've endured up here and it's now chicken coop building time. The birds are set to arrive the first week of May. I couldn't get exactly what I originally wanted for birds but I'm happy about the selection made just the same. Twenty White Rocks are coming and ten Silkie Bantams. Can't wait to see them. I'll post pictures as soon as they arrive.
Bye for now!!
So things on the farm are finally starting to pick up. There's a possibility that the worst of winter is behind us and Spring is around the corner. Of course when I look outside of my window at the three plus feet of snow on the ground it looks more like spring is down the block and it will be a while before she gets here. Never-the-less preparations must be made, and in that sense we are in full swing around here. After agonizing for hours over what animals we're going to add to the farm this year we have concluded that Chickens, Goats, Rabbits, and Bees will be joining Snowbound Farms. This decision was based both on our current financials as well as the amount of time we have to be invested in animal care this year. In future years we hope to be able to add larger livestock but that prospect is just not feasible this year.
So, the breed of chicken we thought best suited to our climate and conditions in Maine was really a no brain er for me. I spent quite a lot of time going over which breeds of birds can raise their own young, and call me crazy but if the chicken doesn't have the brains to sit on it's own nest and hatch an egg than it's to stupid to be on this farm. I understand that broodiness was a trait breed out of most types of chickens because farmers wanted their birds to continuously lay eggs instead of always trying to nest, but for me I want a breed that can replenish itself without me having to incubate each an everyone. So naturally I choose a Bantam Breed. Apparently this breed is the only one left with any brains. We choose the Silkie variety, because of their ability to be broody, forage for their own food, and they have a higher tolerance to cold than other Bantam varieties. The only downside to this variety I can see is that their skin is a bluish color instead of buff. I can't quite see eating a blue chicken dressed on the dinner table. So needless to say these will be our layers and luckily for them they will be spared the axe. We are not going to add a additional variety of chicken this year for us to eat. The extra costs of additional fencing and another hen house is not something I want to invest at this time. So we will have eggs and chickens to sell but none to eat this Spring. Our Silkie Bantams will be joining us the last week of May.
The goats, for me at least, was a much harder decision. There are two types of goats and countless varieties in each type. A milk goat or a meat goat. Both types require a large investment of both time and money so keeping them cannot be entered upon lightly. In order to keep goats at Snowbound Farms we have to build a structure of sorts to keep them in and fence in an antiquate pasture. Not to mention the production of their food must be added to what we already grow on the farm so as to make a maximum profit on them. After careful consideration of both types we feel that the meat goat variety would better suit our needs. Don't get me wrong, the milk goats are great money makers but I would have to market my cheese here at home and I think that in such a rural area I would have to do a lot of merchandising that might be done in the future but with an infant is impossible for me to do now. Meat goats can be sent to slaughter as a group and sold to a producer or "middle man". This cuts down on my profits but it eliminates the time and effort of marketing we would have to do in order to sell directly to the public ourselves. I can however sell stock from the farm which is of course another plus. After talking to many goat owners and breeders I found that a Boer/ Nubian Cross might be the best way to go with our goats. With the Boer Goats I can have a goat with more muscle who as an adult can reach 360 lbs. With the Nubian Goats they have some of the highest content of butter fat in their milk making it excellent for cheese production. So when you cross the two you get kids that finish at a higher weight, faster, and with less stress on the Nubian mother than if she were a Boer. Sounds logical to me, but we shall see. Our goats will be joining us some time in June.
The decision of rabbits can from my love of rodents as my husband Steve calls them. I'm the kind of person that loves guinea pigs and hamsters, and that will feed the birds outside and set up another feeder "just for the squirrels". Steve on the other hand sees them as varmint and feels they should be executed on sight. Needless to say he thinks rabbits are a waste of time and money. So rabbits are a venture for me and my eldest son, Vincent, only. I think it will be a good learning experience for him and will teach him so good old fashioned responsibility. So he's apart of it weather he likes it or not, and as of right now he's really excited about it. How excited he'll be when he's got to clean a wall of cages remains to be seen, but oh well. As I previously stated I am a lover of rodents so no meat rabbits for me. We are going to have the Angora variety. They are truly the most adorable puff balls I have ever seen, and I am so excited to have them on my farm. The fur which is plucked in hairballs ( the rabbit is not harmed at all) is worth a nice amount of money out here, and if all goes well I may look into other fiber animals for Snowbound Farms next year. Our Angora Rabbits should be joining us at the beginning of May.
As for the Honey Bees, that was a decision made because we put in a 48 tree apple orchard last year. We have 8 trees each of Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Granny Smith, Stayman Winesap, Gala, and Honeycrisp. This spring makes them 3-yr-old trees. 3 more years and we should be getting some apples. That's the thing about a farm; everything moves so much slower. It's all a process, nothing happens right away. Everything is a wait. Anyways, we're adding 2 10 frame bee hives to our orchard in the hopes that they will survive. Bees in general aren't doing very well around the world. But, if they make it they will help pollinate our orchard, market garden, corn field, potatoe field, and our bush fruit that we are also planting in June. The bees will be arriving mid July from North Carolina.
Well, that about sums it up. Anyone wishing to see pictures of our new arrivals should Check back often in May and June. It will be a busy time for us here and I should be doing updates all the time. I will be posting picks of their arrival as well as their progress. Everyone's excited about the coming Spring. Now if it will just ever get here.
Thank You and God Bless.
2008 was a busy time for us on the farm. In March we purchased the property while there was still snow on the ground. In fact it was one of the worst winters Maine has seen in almost 100 years. We got a total of over 200 inches of snow and it didn't all melt until the middle of May, and even then there was still snow in the tree lines.
Since we have a fairly short growing season on an average year up here, no more than a 100 days or so, last year was a difficult year to start a new garden. We had no time to till our half acre garden plot and wait for the weeds to rear their ugly heads and till again. So we turned over our grassy plot, took out the chucks of sod, made rows and got to planting.
Needless to say it wasn't long before the grass and weeds began to take over. But in true greenhorn style we weren"t going to let the weeds win. By the end of the season we were weeding with a weed whip and a lawn mower but we salvaged our garden and had enough produce to freeze and can for the winter. On a happy note if we had done the garden right we probably wouldn't of had anything to show for it. We got a lot of rain in the spring and a lot more in the summer and most people's gardens out here got hit with blight, but thanks to all our weedy competition our veggies didn"t suffer a bit. We harvested lettuce, peas, green beans, potatoes, carrots, turnip, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, beets, onions, and one acorn squash.
Ahh.. the acorn squash. Chalk that up to another greenhorn mistake. Up here when growing winter squash one must pinch off the flowers on the vine to get them to produce fruit faster before the killing frost gets them sometime during August. I didn't know this but there's always 2009 to try try again. Anyways, we were able to sell a small amount of tomatoes and beets, and all in all I was pleased with our experience as first time gardeners. It can only get better from here.
We also planted our apple orchard in spring and have yet to wait out the winter to see which of our 48 two year old trees have survived. In Jan. of 2009 we experienced one of the coldest days in Maine's history 53 degrees below zero.... That's without the windchill. We had a good ground cover of snow by that time so God willing our trees are okay. We shall see this spring around May.
We've done quite a bit of remodling to our 1890's farm house. New kitchen, added a second bath, all new pergo floors( we have a season here in maine that comes before spring called mud), and new carpet in the bedrooms. So as I said before 2008 was a busy year. We look forward to the Spring of 2009 and hope you will check back often... I'm sure we'll be doing lost of things wrong and we should be able to give everyone a good laugh.